New SugarCRM regional vice-president, Wayne Goss, believes that CRM will come to define 2015 as more businesses look at customer relationship management as a vital component of their sales offering.

Goss said his company has been pulling customers from key rivals such as Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and Salesforce -- most of which don't have localised Cloud-based offerings.

As such, SugarCRM has seen 37 per cent growth in 2014 across APAC, and 28.4 per cent in A/NZ. While the company works on expanding into China and Japan, the last 10 years of operation in A/NZ, means that it still accounts for 60 per cent of APAC's business -- through companies such as Yellow Pages and Assure Quality in New Zealand, and the Department of Primary Industries, Macquarie University and AdShel in Australia.

He estimates that his company's offering is split three ways between on demand SaaS offerings, locally hosted and on premise. Many of SugarCRM's customers are concerned about the localisation of their data -- not just looking to futureproof their offerings against potential legislation enforcing it, but also the issues of latency and the simple human need to 'feeling in control of their data'.

Goss also said once the NBN is up and running, it will create a performance bottleneck for the major players, such as Salesforce, who have servers based overseas.

The company is opening its own standalone office on January 1 in North Sydney or Chatswood (TBC), Goss said. His local staff base has expanded from just two to eleven across 2014.

Customer Service Agents (CSAs) are now seeing their roles become more and more important, as they aren't just being used to retain customers, but lure new ones in -- they are effectively merging with the sales department and believes the role of the CCO (Chief Customer Officer) will become more vital in 2015.

A single plane of glass approach to CRM, that covers marketing, sales, and customer service is now vital to any business -- for example, media giants are being threatened by Netflix (which launches in March), and banks are worried about Paypal -- CSA, which has always traditionally been seen as a 'defensive' measure (i.e. customer retention) is now an opportunity.

The opportunity for the channel lies in targeting these businesses and specialising offerings to suit market verticals.

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Even enterprises, where SugarCRM is now picking up major leads, still run the CRM tools in a traditional business fashion -- namely spreadsheets and other ad hoc methods.

CRM is a huge market opportunity for the channel that is going to waste, in what Goss calls 'The Case of the missing zero'. In a world where nearly every business is now front facing, just 20 million customers are using CRM systems -- out of a potential 200 million.

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